Recently, I found myself stuck at the courthouse, trapped in an interminable limbo among dozens of other attorneys, each waiting for their turn to be called into chambers for a status conference with the judge on their respective cases. Passing the time, I found myself in conversation with an attorney who I knew in passing from a previous case we had both worked on. The conversation turned to our respective firms and practices. I learned that this gentleman, who was several years younger than me and only a few years removed from law school, had left the small plaintiff’s firm to which he had been previously attached in order to hang out his proverbial shingle, and strike out on his own.
I applauded his initiative, noting that I had never spent time outside the confines of a larger firm. Upon learning that I focus my practice primarily upon legal malpractice defense, he quickly made a comment about how one of the biggest fears he now had was being exposed to claims from dissatisfied clients. He further explained that when he was with his previous firm, he always had a more senior attorney looking over his shoulder, to whom he could turn for help when he had questions about how to best handle the case. He seemed particularly concerned that his relative inexperience would lead to him making a mistake in the substantive portions of the case; that is, failing to apply some nuance of the law, or making a mistake as to an evidentiary rule, etc.
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